It’s afternoon tea week! Afternoon tea came about in the 1840s, when the Duchess of Bedford realised she was always hungry between lunch and dinner – aren’t we all! At first, she’d have snacks alone in her boudoir but then began to invite friends. I think she had the right idea!

Tea is a huge aspect of life in South Africa, perhaps because of their years in the British empire. I grew up considering tea the way to catch up with loved ones, whilst nibbling something delicious. I have vivid memories of arriving in Johannesburg, as a little girl, and going straight to my Grandpa’s house for tea with the whole family. I was lucky enough to know three of my great Grannies and they’d all arrive with overused tins and baked goods in abundance. Our holidays in South Africa were always full of much needed time in the kitchen, learning to bake, then enjoying the fruits of our labour with a nice cup of tea!

Thinking about afternoon tea reminded me that going back to basics is sometimes the best way to entertain.

I decided to host my own afternoon tea in honour of the week!

Here are four key elements, to make your afternoon tea a success:


This is dependent on the amount of people you have coming, but I’d always suggest you serve both sweet and savoury. It’s also nice to provide dairy-free and gluten-free options, so you can keep all your guests happy!

Here are a couple of recipes you might like to try for your tea party:

Blossom Cake

Chocolate Sesame Seed Cake

Or have a look through my book The Social Kitchen for some fail-safe biscuit recipes.

The Atmosphere

Decorations are key to a good afternoon tea. To set the mood, I laid my table with an array of cake stands, little plates and forks, tea cups and of course, teapots. I’m not suggesting you recreate ad Alice in Wonderland style banquet (unless that takes your fancy!) but it’s always nice to have little things that make people think “it’s tea time!”

That said, a good atmosphere starts with the host, so the most important thing is to be welcoming. Be warm, inviting, ask your guests about their lives and listen. People love to talk about themselves!

The Guest List

On this occasion, I invited a group of women I’d met at various Instagram events, each of whom had inspired me in some way. I wanted to catch up with them all and also thought it would be a nice idea to introduce them to each other. I came up with a guest list of likeminded individuals who I knew would have things in common, be it their work, children or personal lives.

Party Bags

Going home party bags are not only for children. I have no idea why, because everyone loves going home with a gift! Whether it’s a slice of cake, a homemade biscuit with a bottle of water for the ride home, a party bag is always a touch that won’t go unnoticed!

Next Time

I’ll be hosting a monthly afternoon tea and would love you to join. Please get in touch if you’re be interested!